Murder on Tyneside: Eileen Thornton
Can you ever bring back your past? When life hands Agnes a difficult turn and she loses her best friend and husband Jim, she decides to revisit the small town where she grew up never thinking this would be a new turning point in her life. Entering the hotel that she would be staying in she views the ambience and enjoys seeing so many people milling about. But, the tranquility of the scene will be brief, as a turn of events will change everything when she hears loud noises and an argument outside of her hotel room when she is about to retire for the evening. The voices get louder and it is apparent the couple next door are gravely upset as Mrs. Hargreaves has an expensive necklace that appears to have been stolen. The anger in her voice and her husband’s placating her thinking she might have misplaced it did not stop her from demanding that the police be called. Agnes is very inquisitive and from the start she decides she has to become part of the investigation as he feels she is a witness what was being said. When the police and the manager arriver little does she know that the Chief Inspector Johnson is someone she knew from her past and a relationship begins in an unusual way. Alan Johnson is his name and he seems smitten with her from the start. Agnes seems to be strong willed, strong minded and when she gets her thoughts set on something she persists even if it puts her in danger.
But, this theft was just the beginning of several more to follow but something else more horrific happens when she and Alan are out for dinner. Missing jewelry is at the heart of the novel but these is much more as the encounter a dead body in the street that appeared to have been thrown from the window of a famous museum. But, events are such that when the police investigating and Chief Inspector Alan Johnson, soon realizes that there is no blood at the murder site, no evidence of foul play and the plot thickens even more. Agnes loves to play detective and her mind seems to go many miles a minute in different directions as she insists on becoming part of the investigation. Although this would seem unorthodox she manages to help at one scene with a woman that is out of sorts and identifies a man that Agnes thinks is following her for some reason. But, hunting down this man and realizing that he is at the same hotel as she is you begin to wonder if he is really after her, why he appears irate when he sees her and then a startling revelation is made and a simple photo explains it all but just who killed this young woman named Mary who was staying at the hotel? Things get more sinister as the thief seems to be roaming free and able to enter the rooms and steal valuable jewelry. One such necklace is worth millions and when Mrs. Anderson claims hers is stolen the DCI realizes along with his Sergeant that something is wrong and the way they are acting and can only produce a picture of the necklace and no proof that it really belonged to Mrs. Anderson, makes him wonder if they had anything to do with the thefts.
When another body turns up it appears that it belongs to the brother of the dead girl Mary. Dennis Drummond was the man’s name and when Agnes and Alan meet with the owner of a restaurant they were frequenting they learn his connection and have the unfortunate job of telling him the double bad new. As he reveals the name of the man who appeared to be following Agnes as David Drummond who is an M.I.5 agent on the scene and soon Agnes tries to lure him into having a drink and dinner with her but the end result would cause her more than she bargained for. Newcastle is the setting for this novel and the Millennium Hotel is where the action takes place. As Agnes finally approaches David Drummond, has drinks with him and then dinner winding up in a tense conversation where he reveals something about the murders, why he takes blame for them but then Agnes begins to feel ill and is taken back to her room only to find herself locked away somewhere in the hotel either by the killer or the thief. Just who is behind this all and why Agnes? Questioning David Drummond, speaking with him in private allows readers to know that there is much more that he is not sharing with the police. Added in he states why he is there, who he is watching and does this person have anything to do with drugging Agnes’s drink. She at times is overpowering and overbearing and refuses to relent when the police Alan and his Sergeant Andrews tell her this is an investigation and she really needs to take a step back. But, for some reason she refuses to listen and they seem to give in to her wishes especially Alan who is taken with her. Author Eileen Thornton has created a character in Agnes that will definitely give Ms. Marple, Agatha her self and Jessica Fletcher a good run for their money and definite competition when trying to crack a case.
Sergeant Andrews is quite bright and his deductive reasoning put a new spin in the case, as someone close to the thefts might be responsible for it in lucrative way. But, what about David Drummond is he really an agent and if he is, good or double? While Alan and his Sergeant bring in two suspects will David go after Agnes and why does she allow him to stay in her room for the night when he claims to be eluding two agents that were sent to replace him. Is he being taken in or just sent back to London on another case? What about the deaths of his family? Listening to his cousin you would think David was a saint and would never hurt anyone. LIES OR TRUTHS? The ending will definitely surprise readers as author Eileen Thornton throws several twists that readers won’t expect. Who was the mastermind behind the thefts? Who was behind the murders and why? Characters right out of an episode on Murder She Wrote or an Agatha Christie mystery novel, author Eileen Thornton has the start of a great Agnes Lockwood Mystery Series.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine